Location: West end of the Agora’s South Square, next to the Aiakeion. No 12 in the Agora plan of the Guide: Μc Camp II, J., The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations, Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book no 16, American School of Classical Studies (Princeton 2003), p. 2 and pp. 24-25.
Date of construction: Mid-4th cent. BC. Destroyed in 86 BC.
Periods of use: Hellenistic Period
The Southwest Fountain was constructed in the middle of the 4th cent. BC, a period during which Athens was suffering from draught and extensive works were carried out in the Agora. It survives in a very desolate state. Its location in a prominent spot of the Agora and its size reveal that it once was the most important fountain house in the Agora.
The construction of the Southwest Fountain was part of a wider project aimed at providing potable water to the square of the Agora. Historical research has correlated these attempts with the protracted draught which affected Greece in the mid-4th cent. BC, as mentioned in the sources. This structure provided water to the Agora area, but also to the nearby residential complex.
Excavational research in the site of the SW Fountain was carried out in two phases, in 1934 and in 1954. The building survives in a very poor condition. Its identification as a fountain house results from the discovery of the large stone aqueduct which provided it with fresh water.
The conduit survives in an exceptionally good state, for a length of approximately 220m to the east of the SW Fountain, and then it vanishes under the modern residences; it passed between the Heliaia and the fountain and continued under the street bordering the south side of the square. It was made up of large poros slabs. It was quite wide and had a sufficient height, which facilitated its maintenance and cleaning.
The building was set deep into the bedrock, to conform with the level of the supply line. As a result, the water flowed cool. It was L-shaped, and an internal row of columns divided the structure in two parts, the porch and the basin. Its columns bore no flutes and had a diameter of 0.62m in their lower part, as indicated by the traces their bases on the stylobate. The building will have measured approximately 17m in length, while its width was about 10.5m. The edges of the fountain’s wings would have been walled up. A fragment from the parapet survives, preserving signs of wear from the pitchers the users of the fountain placed on it. It is made up of hard limestone. The south wall of the building faced to the street flanking the Agora to the south, while the façade and its south side faced the two important streets in the southeast side of the Agora.
The Fountain House was completely ruined during the sack of Athens by Sulla and was demolished; as a result only its foundation remains, as well as very few hard grey poros blocks from the superstructure.
The building is dated to the third quarter of the 4th cent. BC. An earlier dating, in the late 5th cent. BC, suggested by Thompson, cannot be accepted, as the pottery unearthed in its foundation dates to c.350 BC.
In the late 4th cent. BC the fountain house was enlarged by the construction of an annex in its southwest corner. During the same period, the aqueduct was expanded to the west, to supply water to the annex. It was now possible for the users of the fountain to place their pitchers under the lion-shaped spout on the wall, from which the water flowed.
Further modifications were made in the 2nd cent. BC. With the extensive edification project in the south side of the Agora and the creation of the South Square, there was a greater need for potable water; the southwest annex fell into disuse as a comparable installation was added at the southeast corner.232 The new room allowed the users of the fountain house to fill their pitchers from the lion-head spouts placed on either side. This annex, however, was available only to people entering the South Square, being inaccessible to those approaching the Agora from the west. They will have used the basin in the original structure of the SW Fountain.
Originally the SW Fountain was identified with the Enneakrounos, but the completion of the excavation in 1954 proved that the structure was much later than this 6th century fountain house. An alternative suggestion identifies the fountain with the structure in front of which the politician Phrynichos was murdered in 411 BC. This view also creates dating problems rendering its adoption inadvisable.
BOERSMA, J.S., Athenian Building Policy from 561/560 to 405/404 B.C., Scripta Archaeologica Groningana 4 (Groningen 1970), p. 93 and p. 223, no. 102.
Mc CAMP II, J., The Water Supply of Ancient Athens from 3000 to 86 BC (Dissertation Princeton University 1978), pp. 116-130 and 171-173.
Mc CAMP II, J., The Athenian Agora: A Guide to the Excavation and Museum4 (Athens 1990), pp. 181-184.
Μc CAMP II, J., The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations, Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book no 16, American School of Classical Studies (Princeton 2003), p. 20.
Mc CAMP II, J., Η Αρχαία Αγορά της Αθήνας. Οι Ανασκαφές στην καρδιά της κλασικής πόλης2 (Αθήνα 2004), pp. 189-190.
SHEAR, T.L., ‘The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora, Seventh Report: The Campaign of 1934’, Hesperia 4 (1935), pp. 340-370 (esp. p. 360).
THOMPSON, H.A., ‘Excavations in the Athenian Agora: 1953’, Hesperia 24 (1955), pp. 57-69 (esp. pp. 52-54).
THOMPSON, H.A., ‘Excavations in the Athenian Agora: 1954’, Hesperia 25 (1956), pp. … (esp. pp. 52-53).
THOMPSON, H.A., ‘Activities in the Athenian Agora: 1960-1965’, Hesperia 35 (1966), pp. 37-54, plates 13-18 (esp. pp. 42-43).
THOMPSON, H.A. – WYCHERLEY, R., The Agora of Athens. The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora, vol. XIV, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (Princeton 1972), p. 70 and pp. 200-201. 

SW-Fountain, Representation in VR environment

The project "Virtual Reality Digital Collection 'The Ancient Agora of Athens'" has been co-funded in a percentage of 80% by the European Regional Development Fund and in a percentage of 20% by state funds in the framework of the Operational Programme "Information Society" of the 3rd Community Support Framework.

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